Updated: Solidarity with Irina Putiloss, LGBTQ activist facing deportation to Russia (UK)

UPDATE: Ira has been released!




Irina is an LGBTQ activist seeking asylum in the UK. On 6/12/13 she was unexpectedly detained by UKBA officials and taken to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. Yarl’s Wood has been the subject of recent controversy as cases of sexual abuse by private security guards against female detainees came to light (1). Despite the complexities of her case, she has been ‘fast tracked’ for a decision and faces potential deportation in a matter of days.

The so-called ‘Fast Track’ system allows asylum claims to be processed within 2 weeks, but has come under extensive criticism from migrant rights groups who claim it is heavily biased against the claimant. Less than 1% of fast track claims are successful.

In Russia, Irina was harassed, followed, and attacked by state officials, the police and far right groups because of her political activism and LGBTQ status. In 2012 Irina received death threats directly from the Russian police. Subsequently, her parents’ house was raided repeatedly, she was followed, and subjected to multiple illegal arrests and police beatings. Six months ago, she fled Russia, leaving illegally as she was not allowed to travel outside of the country. If she is deported to Russia, she will face certain imprisonment, a high possibility of harassment, torture and her life will be put in danger.

Irina’s solicitor has described her detainment as ‘totally inappropriate’ and in contravention of Home Office policy. Irina’s case involves a significant number of documents, which require preparation and translation. These documents illustrate the danger Irina will face if she is made to return to Russia. … Marta D’Epifanio of Hackney Migrants Centre, said that ‘As an LGBTQ person, she should not have been fast tracked. The case is far too complex considering Russia’s hostile actions towards LGBTQ people. The first step that needs to happen is to remove Irina from the fast track deportation program’.

Through Irina’s involvement in various community organisation projects in Hackney, she has met many local people who are currently organising a campaign to demand that Irina be granted asylum in the UK. Jon Owen, a spokesperson for the Irina Must Stay campaign commented, ‘Russian LGBTQ people are facing an onslaught of state persecution in their home
country. At the very least she needs to be removed from the fast track program so that her case receives the proper consideration it deserves’.

A demonstration of solidarity will take place today (Sunday, 8 December) at the UKBA Office, 60 St. Thomas St, SE1 3QU. Meet at 17:20 in Borough Market in black block.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 8th, 2013 at 2:18 pm and is filed under No Borders.